To the editor:
Hog confinements, those innocuous-looking long and low buildings dotting our countryside, are much more than they seem. Housing thousands of animals in tight quarters on slatted metal grates that allow the manure and other wastes to fall into a noxious mix, these buildings represent an industry that is consuming rural Iowa.
Another confinement has been applied for in Greene County, and our Greene County Supervisors have scheduled a public hearing for Monday, Aug. 8 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse. They do have the ability – even the responsibility – to say no to this confinement.
Just last week on July 26, the Webster County Supervisors voted no on a similar facility, put forth by the very same corporation: Granite Farms IV LLC. After hearing concerns from several county residents about odor nuisance, flies, water quality issues, non-local ownership, quality of life in the community and declining property values, the vote was unanimous.
Final say is in the hands of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), but if more and more residents and supervisors say no, the DNR and our elected officials will have to take notice.
While any hog confinement has the potential to be problematic, non-local ownership of this proposed facility is an extra concern. Like most of the new confinement facilities in this area, these two buildings with 2,500 hogs each will sit on a patch of land not physically connected to a farm family’s homestead.
Granite Farms IV LLC is one of more than a dozen LLCs that are connected to Iowa Select Farms. A search of the Iowa DNR Animal Feeding Operation website shows that Iowa Select has 153 confinements, although the name of the owner/contact in the documents filed with Greene County is Keith Kratchmer.
Mr. Kratchmer has 173 confinements listed under his name. A low estimate would add up to nearly a half million hogs under Mr. Kratchmer’s care. The owners of this facility would have no real or permanent connection to Greene County. Profits would leave, and risks would stay.
Concerns voiced by residents and votes of no by our supervisors are not criticisms of farmers and farming. Instead, they are a challenge to this powerful, vertically integrated and expanding hog industry that is taking advantage of Iowa’s fertile soil, lack of economic opportunities in rural areas and the relative lack of regulation in this state compared to other states.
The quality of our air, water and soil are put in jeopardy, all for the sake of this industry’s greed, and our rural communities suffer.
Whether we are farmers, non-farmer rural residents, residents of our towns, people who come to Greene County as employees or business owners or potential future Greene County residents, we are all affected by what happens in our beautiful and precious countryside.
Please contact our Greene County Supervisors via phone or e-mail with your concerns regarding another hog confinement proposal, or attend the public hearing Aug. 8.